I Lost Ten Pounds!

This post has nothing to do with weight loss. The scale is not even in my bathroom anymore. It never had anything nice to say. This post is about a conversation I had this week with a sweet friend. I would describe her as a divine gathering of stardust. She is the kind of person that the moment you meet them you just know they are special and you want to know them more.

Anyway, she asked how I knew to start this blog. That was a fantastic question. The truth is, I wanted a place to tell the truth. I wanted a place to gather my thoughts and observations about my life experiences. I also wanted to talk through some of these things with a community of people.

I was never concerned with how many people actually read my words. I just wanted to lose the weight of the thoughts in my mind. When I share a truth about life experiences, it feels like another pound of pretend is off my back. It feels like “well now that’s out there” and I am free from pretending like it’s not part of my story or part of what I value.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her memoir Eat, Pray, Love with the quote “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth” I get it now. I get that telling my truth has nothing to do with you and it has everything to do with me. I am a bit more free with every truth I tell.

We live in a culture that shames our scars. We are expected to be fine or okay all the time. These expectations are devastating for a lot of people. Life is hard for us all in one way or another. No one gets out without a few scars. Too many of us spend so much time adjusting our images to hide our scars and our stories to make them more palatable to the masses. I have no desire to be palatable and every desire to be real.

My husband’s poppa asked me early on in our relationship “You are real, huh?”

Yes, I am real, I’m messy, I’m scarred, I’m held together with string, I’m confused most of the time, I think rodents are particularly funny, I would only eat pizza if I were single, I love with an exhausting intensity, I care so much, and I’m beautiful.

Love.

 

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I Never Needed A Makeover

A friend of mine is in town for the week (I love her ) and we were talking last night about a time in my life when I (significantly) lacked confidence and what that felt like. Honestly, I think we all struggle with confidence from time to time but there were times when I thought that I was just not good enough at anything.

This post makes me so sad for the person I was.

There was a time in my life when people would tell me how to dress, how to do my hair, or what I should act like or talk like. My laugh was too loud and my opinions were too much. When I shared these stories with my friend, I could see her sadness and that made me sad. It’s just not nice to tell people that how they are in the world is wrong. I never needed a makeover, I was good enough, what I needed were people that love me just the way I am.

If I want to wear sneakers with a dress, I will do just that.

If I want to laugh out loud, I will do just that.

If I want to share my opinions on issues that are important to me, I will do just that.

I was doing a training with adolescents last week and a table of young women were asking such incredible questions. One young lady asked why I did not have children and I answered that it was complicated. She looked confused and made some guesses that were sweet but incorrect. I summed it up like this:  it takes a lot of courage to live a life true to yourself and some people will never understand or agree with some of your life choices and that’s okay. If you pause and consider your life honestly, you will know what an honest life for you looks like for you. It’s scary but it’s worth it. It is so worth it.

When I was in first grade I wore fake glasses without lenses to school because I thought they looked cool. This is who I am.

Why is this such a radical way to be in the world?

If you are struggling with confidence and the people around you are always picking you apart, you don’t need new clothes, you need new people.

Love.

Are You Safe? Decision Fatigue.

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I was at a training last week and it was held at a facility next to the psychiatric hospital. A person came up to me and asked “Have you ever been in that place (the psychiatric hospital)? I’ve heard horror stories about what goes on in there” I nodded and responded that I had, in fact, been in that place but did not go into details as to why. That story is long and winding and not appropriate for that interaction.

But, if you follow this blog at all, you know that my life is replete with mental illness. Psychiatric hospitals don’t scare me. I think once you have spent a few Christmases in certain places, they lose some power over you.

I talked to a friend later that evening and told her that I often get mistaken for “The white girl that had a pony” Before I go on, I know that having a pony does not mean you had a good, perfect, or even okay life. It’s just an expression or joke that fit the conversation.

What I also learned at this conference was the concept of decision fatigue. This is not the decision fatigue associated with what to wear or what to watch on television. This is the type of decision fatigue related to “Are you a safe person to share these parts of me and my story with?” “Are you going to judge me if I tell you about me?” These questions are constantly swirling in my head because there are real life consequences to sharing something with someone and having them think differently about you.

I know this from experience.

When I learned about this concept I had a profound “Aha” moment. I am constantly assessing the people around me for safety. I have been known to ask directly if someone is safe to share information with. The truth is, it is human nature to make assumptions about the people we share time with. It is also human nature to judge people based on their life experiences.

I have stacks of letters related to my grandmother’s struggles with mental illness in the 1960’s and make no mistake, she was a warrior. The horrors she endured due to ignorance were unbelievable, barbaric, and inhumane and many of these treatments are still happening today.

One could guess that being a therapist was the only real logical place for me in the world.

I know that I was born to tell the truth. my truth. It is the way I make meaning out of the things I’ve experienced, learned, and endured. I stopped trying to figure out why I am built the way I am and now I just flow with it. Telling my truth is when I feel whole and connected to my divinity. It is also why self-censoring is so unbelievable exhausting for me.

I did not have a pony. I’ve spent a lot of my life in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Those places do not scare me because those places are filled with humans, just like you and me. I think sometimes we forget that.

This is part of my truth (an abridged version) and as the great Brene Brown says:

“When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness—that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging—lives inside of our story.”

She Loved It All.

A few years ago, I read a story that hit me in my guts. A woman, about the age I am now, was dying of breast cancer and her husband was documenting her fight through photography. In the pictures you could see the pain, suffering, and fear in her eyes…but you could also see how much he loved her by the way he captured her experience.

One of the last days of her life, her husband asked her what her favorite part of her day was. This being a day spent in intractable pain in a hospice bed staring death in the eyes. She answered “I loved it all”

I loved it all.

Yesterday, my birthday, I was surrounded by so much love it took me out. I talked to my dearest friends on the phone, received beautiful texts, and Facebook oozed with love. But, one person made me feel badly and that brought me to tears. It’s crazy how powerful perceived rejection or dismissal can feel even when I was saturated in such love.

I called my brother – a warrior. He is the only person that can talk to me in the way that he does. It’s magical. The love I have for him is beyond unconditional – it covers all space and time. He is my courage and my heart.

I told him how I was feeling and he reminded me, in his way, that more than enough people love me. I immediately stopped crying – he was absolutely right.

I am loved beyond measure.

I danced my heart out later that night with people I love beyond measure.

And, about yesterday, I loved it all.

 

The 35th Year: My Eggs Went Bad!

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”
Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed

I’m on call for the month of February. This means I’m stone sober all month. It’s been a minute since I’ve experienced life in technicolor. And, it’s in the early part of the Trump regime so there’s that. It hurts all over.

More importantly, I’m heading full speed towards 35 years on this blue orb and with each day, I learn more about me and more about life. It is glorious.

When I turned 30, my supervisor at the time told me that 30 was great but 35 was her favorite. I see now why she felt that way. With each passing year of my thirties, I grow more confident in who I am and what I want out of life.

Growing up, 35 felt like a scary age to be a woman. This is the age where our baby bearing years are “high risk” and we should have made that all important decision of starting a family by now. Lucky for me, I’ve started my family and it does not involve invasive tests and long needles. I will not be having babies so 35 is not going to be an at risk year for me. I think (good and loving) mothers will save us all but I am not part of that tribe. Actually, my tribe includes some wonderful mothers but being a mother is not required for admittance.

Thirty-five Years

The biggest lesson of my life thus far: You do not get to be in my inner circle if you do not make me feel safe and valued.I  teach people about healthy boundaries all day. They look at me wide eyed when I show them the rings of trust around me and them and where people belong. To be in my innermost circle, you must demonstrate that you are safe, loving, compassionate, and trustworthy. If not, you get moved to an outer circle and moved to another outer circle and so on.

My space is sacred, and so is yours, and we should all treat it as such. My time is the most valuable asset I have and I will not waste one minute of my limited time on this planet convincing you that how I feel matters – you get or you do not.

I will not mince words on human rights or my own worth.

The next lesson I’ve learned: Tough times make you tough and the tougher the times, the tougher you get. My skin is leather. If you think you can put me in my place or shut me up because we do not agree on something – you can keep moving. Trust me, you cannot say something to me that hurts more than what was dished at me not too may years ago. Or, there is this interesting thing people do, they try to withhold their love in an attempt to get me to change my mind or quiet down – I see you and I know what you are doing. This does not work, ever. Because love is given freely and unconditionally or it is not love. Please take yourself to an outer circle or right on out the door.

The final and most beautiful lesson: My inner circle is filled with the most beautiful souls. I love you and will fight tirelessly for you. I will give you all my kisses and all my hugs. I vow to love you unconditionally as you have done for me during the darkest hours of my life. I will continue to laugh with you until my stomach hurts. I will not judge you or give up on you. I will hold on to you for dear life and you can do the same for me. I value each of you as I value my own breath.

Finally, I am super in love with Glennon Doyle Melton right now. You should check her out and Rupi Kaur, nayyirah waheed, and Yrsa Daley-Ward. I rub their words on my wounds and they leave beautiful scars. The world is a mix of dark and light.

In conclusion, my eggs may have gone bad but my life is oh so good*

Love.

“I didn’t leave because
I stopped loving you,
I left because the longer
I stayed the less I loved myself.”
Rupi Kaur

*save for all the terrifying political shit going on

My Dad Had A Love Gun.

2016: Day 1

September 21st 7am: The alarm goes off and my partner tells me that he doesn’t have to go into work until a little later. He’s been working a lot so I’m happy to spend time with him.

7:05am the phone rings and I let it go to voicemail: “Casey this is Doug, I need you to call me ASAP”

Doug is my dad’s home manager

7:06 am: Doug answers and tells me that my dad’s heart stopped early this morning and he’s at the hospital. I need to come now.

7:20 am: We’re in the car heading the 3+ hours through a tsumani storm. I can’t stop crying.

1990 (ish)

My dad invents this thing called “The Love Gun.” He makes the symbol for love and shoots us with it before my brother and I go to bed at night.

2016

The hospital calls  as we are en route to say they are putting in a pic line. I don’t know what this means. One of my best friends is a physician. He’s on speed dial for the next few days.

1992

I make fun of someone with alopecia to their face and my dad lectures me on the importance of being a nice person. I can tell that kindness is important to him by the way he’s talking about this.

2016

My in-laws go ahead to the hospital to see if there is anything they can learn before we get there.

1995

My dad does the Carlton dance from Fresh Prince of Bel Air when every single time I have friends over. He thinks this is hilarious. I am mortified.

2016

They ask for family history. I answer that everyone is dead except me and my brother. This is an odd statement to say out loud.

1996

My dad works in the oil fields. He’s in a major explosion and suffers second and third degree burns all over his body. He goes through several surgeries to heal.

2016

We arrive at the hospital and my dad is sedated and intubated. They don’t know why his heart stopped. They say the CPR administered by his home manager saved his life.

1998

My dad gets to volunteer for the Arizona Cardinals and is on the field running films back and forth during the game. His hair is parted to the side. I’ve never seen him happier.

2016

My dad is agitated and they have him in restraints so he doesn’t pull the tubes out. They up the sedation and continue to run tests and scans.

2000

My dad changes jobs and his mental health quickly deteriorates. He’s paranoid. He’s doing crazy and scary things.  My brother and I don’t understand what’s happening.

2016

I sit with my sister next to my dad and just stare at him with the tubes and the wires. I don’t say it out loud but I’m scared out of my mind he’s going to die. I don’t want those words to touch the air.

2003

A man from a hospital in Traverse City calls me to tell me that my dad has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The bottom drops out from under me. I’m a psychology major in college.

2016: Day 2

They lower the sedation but he’s still intubated. Tears are rolling down his cheeks as he mouths “I’m sorry” and “I don’t want to die”

2006

My dad gets moved to Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital and I visit him weekly during visiting hours. We talk about anything and everything. The room is musty and dark.

2016

They remove the tube and my dad mouths with little voice “I love you so much” to me. I can’t breath.

2007

I graduate from Western and my dad gets  a day pass to leave the psychiatric hospital. My grandfather brings him real people clothes and he gets to shave.

2016

The speech guy shows up to help him swallow. He asks my dad about what he does for a living. My dad doesn’t want to tell the man about his life. I change the subject. The man asks about his kids and my dad responds “They’re the best thing I’ve ever done”

2009

A horrible tragedy occurs and my dad literally takes three different modes of transportation to get to my brother and I.

2016 – Day 3

He had a rough night and pulled his pic line out. He bled a lot and he was tired. We still don’t know why his heart stopped.

2011

My dad does whatever he has to do to see my brother when my brother needs him.

2016

He’s stable and they keep saying they’re going to move him out of ICU and into a regular room. He’s joking with my brother and my brother’s girlfriend. My brother always makes him laugh in a special way.

2013

I have to relinquish guardianship of my dad. I live too far away and something bad might happen. I’m devastated to know this is the best solution for all parties. I feel like I’m giving up.

2016 – Day 4

He’s moved into a regular room. They say he’s the healthiest person there. We are still not sure why his heart stopped.

2016…days before

I call him to ask a question about my aunt that has long since died. He talks about her and his other sister that his also died. He says, “I wonder about me sometimes” I change the subject.

2016 – Day 5

They are waiting for his blood thinners to work. Blood clots have been their best guess but they are not certain why or where they came from. He can return home once the medication is where it needs to be.

2016

I still have my love gun.

I’m Not An Idiot Liberal.

“If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake,” is how Scalia once described their lifetime appointments. “As annoyed as you might be about his zinging dissent, he’s so utterly charming, so amusing, so sometimes outrageous, you can’t help but say, ‘I’m glad that he’s my friend or he’s my colleague,’ ” Ginsburg said. Sometimes, she said, she had to pinch herself to not laugh in the courtroom when Scalia said something audacious.”-  Irin Carmon,  What made the friendship between Scalia and Ginsburg work

My grandfather was a staunch republican and the best person to ever live (in my opinion). He was a marine in the Korean War and then worked for Army Intelligence in Georgia. Where he jokingly proclaimed he protected the nation’s secrets from the liberals. He only talked openly to the people he liked and I think there were maybe four or five of us.

Once at a picnic, a punk kid was talking about war like it was some Call of Duty game. I could see my grandfather getting uncomfortable. He spoke up (which never happened) and firmly told the kid “Listen, war is Hell.” The kid’s eyes widened and I don’t think he said another thing the rest of the night. It was probably for the best.

He spent thirty plus years partnered with my grandmother, a feminist liberal. They kissed a lot in front of me. And, he loved me, another feminist liberal. We could talk for hours about the role of government. He taught me to how to debate ideas without attacking the person. I was allowed and even encouraged to have a different opinion. In a lot of ways, I think he liked that I had a lot of opinions and ideas that differed from his. We learned from each other.

Naturally, the debates got heated sometimes. Once, I challenged him on universal healthcare and landed a solid point. He looked at me with a frustrated smile. I waited for him to respond but instead he changed the subject. This had never happened before. I felt like a debating ninja. And, It wasn’t that I changed his mind (or his values or his beliefs) but I was able to change his perspective. I learned that was the point of a debate.

I know that there have always been aggressive people on all sides. My grandfather would say that these people were insecure and unsure of their opinion. He would say that if you knew what you were talking about you wouldn’t need to use force. Intellect was always better than brute strength in a politcal debate.

I wonder what he would think today. My grandmother and I talk about who he would support if he were still here. I don’t think he would appreciate the current climate in politics. I don’t think he would respect the way these campaigns are being operated.

John McCain was his main man and I don’t know how he would feel about the disparaging comments made about him. Especially in relation to war. In my grandfather’s opinion one did not get to speak about war unless they had been there. My grandfather loved this country and he served it well.

I don’t know how we arrived at this place. But, I can’t hear you if you’re screaming at me. I won’t listen to you if you call me an idiot for my beliefs. I won’t respect you if you punch me for thinking differently. I think it’s cowardice. I don’t trust that you believe in what you’re saying if you communicate it using verbal or physical violence. I believe that if you are speaking your truth, you must do so with confidence but not violence.

I’m so lucky to have been loved by such an incredible man. A life-long conservative that proudly raised and supported a feminist liberal granddaughter. Man, I miss him.

“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”

[Address at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, 23 November 2004]”
Desmond Tutu

Love.

Men, You’re Worth More Than A Paycheck

“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”
Jonathan Swift

“… for men, the overarching message is that any weakness is shameful. And since vulnerability is often perceived as weakness, it is especially risky for men to practice vulnerability.”- Brene Brown

Dear Men,

I once had a man tell me he was worth more dead than alive. He stated that his life insurance was a hefty sum of money and that if he died his family would be “all set.” This literally brought me to tears. What’s worse, is I was unable to help this man understand that he was worth so much more than money. He could not hear me say that his kids needed his hugs and kisses more than they needed a tablet. He would not listen when I said that his wife needed his reassurance and love more than a new car. In fact, the only thing stopping him from suicide was that the clause in his life-insurance that stated it would not pay out in the event of suicide.

Men, you are worth so much more than your career and your money. I know so many of you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders at three in the morning. I know you hide your tears behind rage and anger. I know you aren’t allowed to be afraid because being fearful makes you look weak. I’m so sorry that we’ve taught you that you’re only allowed to express your feelings through rage. I’m so sorry that we’ve taught you that you must be strong all the time. We set impossible expectations and then shame you when you don’t meet them.

Men, I know that you’ve experienced shame for expressing needs and emotions. I know you were told to toughen up when you cried as a child. I am so sorry we did this to you. It takes a tough man to cry and we lied to you when we told you it was weak. I am so sorry you were taught that your only value was in the form of zeros on your paycheck. Men, please believe me when I say, you are worth so much more than your title at work.

Men, I am sorry that we never told you that a deep and meaningful partnership is built on vulnerability and openness. I am sorry that you were taught that it was all on you to make it work. I am sorry that we never taught you how to be soft and kind with the people you love. I wish you knew it would be okay if you stayed home with the kids and your wife worked. I wish you knew that you could be a starving artist and still be worthy of love. I wish you knew that the image of masculinity does not capture what it means to be human. I wish you knew that you are lovable even without any money.

Men, you do not have to be rich to be loved. You don’t have to be aggressive (in fact, this will make you lonely and scary and confused). There are so many messages that tell you that the weight of the world is on your shoulders. I know this causes immense shame and feelings of inadequacy. I know you hide your sadness and fear under a coat of rage or distance. I know that leaves you feeling lonely and unloved.

Men, please believe me when I say, you are worth so much more than your paycheck. You don’t have to toughen up or stop crying. And, please try to take better care of yourself. It’s tough out there.

“Men walk this tightrope where any sign of weakness illicits shame, and so they’re afraid to make themselves vulnerable for fear of looking weak”. ~ Brené Brown

Love.

Dear 15 Year Old Sissy.

Dear 15 Year Old Sissy,

I see that you are busy on your teen line talking to your friends. Perhaps, someone called the operator to bust into your conversation and see what is taking you so long to end your conversation. Sometimes you turn the ringer off so you can read some Maya Angelou or American History. Sometimes you turn it off so you can take naps. I suggest you keep the naps up because sleep will never come this easy again.

I am not going to tell you the things that are coming for you. I can’t bring myself to shatter your adolescent comfort of pizza, popcorn, boyfriends, sleep-overs, and friends. I will tell you that friendships you make now and over the course of your life will sustain you so I’m glad you made your relationships such a priority. Your friends will be your family.

I wish I could tell you to go downstairs and look at your parents as they are right now. I know they’ve made a lot of mistakes and you resent them. But, please just put the phone down and walk down the stairs. Maybe your dad is embarrassing you dancing like Carlton from The Fresh Prince and your mom is cleaning (again). I don’t want to regret taking those moments for granted anymore: so go watch them be parents. It will be nearly impossible to remember what that was like in 20 years.

If I could whisper something in your ear, it would be “It’s going to be okay even when you have no reason to believe this to be true.” I’m not going to tell you what is coming for you because it would terrify you. And, you have no need to be scared right now. Right now, you are too busy borrowing CDs from Tiffany or watching Menace 2 Society with Trina. Maybe you’re calling Billy or Nate and asking them to pick you and take you on an adventure.

I’m not going to tell you that everything is going to fall apart and you’re going to feel like you are drowning for years. I’m not going to tell you that you will lose everything you thought was yours to have. You will realize that nothing is yours to have and everything is borrowed. This makes things and moments so much more precious to you.

I am going to tell you that in ten years, you will walk down the hall and see a handsome man sitting at a computer and you want to talk to him. Doing this is the best decision of your life. Talk to him, ask him out. It is scary and out of character for you but it changes everything. You will find that you’ve been crossing paths for most of your lives and never knew it until now. You will believe in serendipity because of this.

I am going to tell you that it’s okay to cry for days on the bathroom floor and it’s okay to take medication to make the bad a little less bad. I am not going to tell you to be brave because you don’t give yourself any other choice. There will be times where you believe that you will never feel good again.  I mean, the kind of good where you feel a deep sense of contentment. But, one day on a warm afternoon you will be walking your dogs and contentment will pour over you. It will take your breath away. I will tell you that when you arrive at that moment the beauty of your life will overwhelm you.

I’ll see you when you get here.

Love.

 

 

 

Married With My Maiden Name.

“Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one less tweeted about” -@artnotfound

When I married my partner and was handed the package to change my last name, my husband and I pushed those papers into a drawer and never spoke of them again. I was born Ms. Beard and I will die Ms. Beard. Most of my friends and much of my family refer to me as simply Beard. This is who I am. It was not some radical act of feminism, I just like my name.

Naturally, some traditional friends and family wrinkled their noses at this decision. I didn’t find this reaction offensive. I believe tradition is important and sharing the same name is one way to create a family connection. Despite not sharing my husband’s name, I am no less his family. We all have to do what feels right for us. 

This was the best fit for me but is not the best fit for every married person. I think one of the hardest thing for millennials to navigate is how to maintain ME in a WE connection. As a relationship therapist, I know the importance of maintaining the ME in WE in terms of sustaining the WE.

How do I stay Me in the context of We?

1) Be honest, even when it’s scary.

When some people partner they may make it a habit to defer to the other partner to make decisions. This often leads to resentments. Each person in a relationship has an opinion and a voice even if they think they don’t or they shouldn’t. If one person is more agreeable than another, I am suspicious that resentments are building and eroding away at the foundation of the relationship. It is essential to be honest from the beginning of a relationship. For example, if you hate Wheel of Fortune tell her now or you’re going to have to hate watch that show for a long time.

Even the most highly emotionally intelligent among us are not mind readers. Tell your partner the truth about who you are from the beginning. And as you grow and change keep them updated on the things they need to know. Being honest about who you are is the only way to live a happy and fulfilling life. 

2) Trust.

If you ain’t got trust, you ain’t got nothing in a relationship. You never own the other person even if you do get married. So, both of you should feel that it is always a choice to stay in the relationship and a choice you are glad to make everyday. If something comes up that threatens the trust in the relationship, please refer to point 1 and be honest with your partner about what’s going on.

3.) Keep your friends.

One of the worst decisions couples make is to abandon their previous connections and focus all their attention on the romantic relationship. We need someone else to vent to when our partner is driving us bonkers. It’s healthy to call up your friends and blow off some steam once in awhile. However, it’s impossible to do this if you have not maintained your connections. Make time to keep the friends you had before the relationship and make new friends during the relationship. Basically, it can’t just be the two of you (and maybe some kids) living in a bubble. That will get weird and unhealthy quick.

4). Do things separately once and awhile. 

It is true that couples that play together stay together. But, it is essential to spend some quality time apart once in awhile. Take a weekend and spend some time with friends. Go on a day trip by yourself. Just make it a habit to know how it feels to exist without the other from time to time.

5.) Keep learning and keep growing

Some couples and families get stuck in a rut and by the looks of their hairstyles and wind breakers I can see that they’ve been in that rut for at least a decade. This stagnation leads to impulsive and sometimes adulterous decisions. Remember not to take each other for granted and to encourage each other to set individual goals and move towards them on a daily basis. It’s good to have goals as a couple but the couple and family are only as healthy as the individuals involved. 

6.) Remember who you are. 

Finally, remember to focus on yourself. Don’t forget the music you like or the movies you prefer. Don’t lose sight of your individual goals. Take time each day to reflect on where you are in your life and where you want to go. When you partner with someone you don’t get absorbed into some blob of a shared person. Be who you are and keep growing into even better versions of yourself. I see so many people that only identify as a husband, father, wife, or mother. Those are all important roles but who are you when you step out of those roles. This is important information to have at all times.

Love.

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet